26 October 2018

Be Afraid? Be Very Afraid?—Why the United States Needs a Counterstrategy to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Although rhetorically grounded under the rubric of a “win-win” philosophy, Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) poses a significant long-term strategic threat to U.S. interests that now spans across the globe. Now in its fifth year of implementation, there is enough evidence to suggest that BRI is much more than a liberal economic development plan. That analysis indicates that BRI could be more analogous to a neo-colonialist and imperialisticChina, under the guise of an economic plan. The fact of the matter is that BRI is part of Xi Jinping’s grand nationalistic strategy to ensure that he and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remain in power. BRI provides Xi with the means to pursue “[t]he great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and help China’s ambitions of regional, if not global, hegemony.

Unfortunately, U.S. efforts to counter BRI thus far have been largely ineffective, insufficient in scale, or too recently implemented to realize their impacts. Both President Trump’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and Secretary Mattis’ National Defense Strategy (NDS) frame China as a “peer-competitor” and as a “challenger” to the United States, but both fail to recognize that BRI is China’s likely gambit to make the “string of pearls” theory come to life.

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